Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Friday, October 19, 2007

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The City of Fort Collins is looking for public input on their proposed water conservation plan according to the The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Fort Collins Utilities is inviting customers to comment on its draft water conservation plan, a roadmap for implementing programs to achieve long-term water conservation goals. The plan includes a recommended conservation program with measures targeted to residential and commercial customers, and indoor and outdoor water use. It includes rebate programs for high-efficiency clothes washers, dishwashers, toilets, urinals and sprinkler systems. The plan includes a goal of 140 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) for the use of treated water by 2026, the end of the 20-year planning horizon. That would be a 22 percent reduction from the 1998 to 2006 average water use of 179 gpcd. The new water conservation plan forecasts a reduction of approximately 4,000 acre-feet per year by 2026. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons. There will be a public open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Café Columbine, 802 W. Drake Road. City staff will be available to discuss the draft plan and get input. There will be a short presentation at 5:30 p.m. The plan is online at Copies are also available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the utility service center, 700 Wood St., and the customer service division, 330 S. College Ave. Public comments are due Dec. 7 and may be submitted online at conservationplan or by mail to Fort Collins Utilities, Water Conservation Plan, PO Box 580, Fort Collins, CO 80522. Information: 221-6700, utilities or visit www.fc"

Category: Colorado Water

7:38:39 AM    

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Here's a look at the problem of trace chemicals in water supplies from The Vail Trail (free registration required). From the article:

Wastewater treatment lowers concentrations of most trace organic compounds -- often by an order of magnitude or more -- but it can't remove them all. As a result, effluent often contains a stew of complex chemicals. A recent U.S. Geological Survey study found that St. Vrain Creek, into which Boulder Creek drains, carries measurable loads of at least 36 different compounds, including artificial fragrances, fire retardants, antibacterial substances used in soaps and substances used to manufacture plastics. The extent to which those chemicals work together to cause effects on the endocrine system -- itself not well understood -- is a big unknown. "The endocrine system is much more than estrogens," says Catherine Propper, an endocrinologist at Northern Arizona University who has studied the effects of trace organics on amphibians. "We have this complicated endocrine system, and every time we find new aspects of it, we find they can be disrupted by some of these environmental contaminants."

It's difficult to draw lines of cause and effect between exposure to endocrine disruptors and human disease or disorder. People are exposed to so many chemicals from so many sources over many years, and some effects may take years or decades to manifest themselves. But an increasing number of researchers are finding strong correlations between the massive increase in synthetic environmental contaminants produced since World War II and health problems such as cancer, declining sperm counts in male humans of all ages, increases in birth defects and diabetes, and flawed fetal development. Of course, humans aren't exposed to the chemicals in effluent in the same way fish in rivers are; we aren't swimming in the water 24/7. And by the time a creek, or the Colorado River, for instance, enters our faucets, the loads of trace organics poured into it from treatment plants upstream have been significantly reduced...

Natural processes, such as degradation by ultraviolet light and the action of microbes, do remove some chemicals from stream water, while others chemically bind to sediment particles. But the intensity of water use in the West means that, in many river systems, water is taken in for further municipal use before natural cleansing mechanisms can do their full work. "Our rivers and lakes do clean water, especially if they have long stretches between communities using it," says Theo Colborn, a longtime pollution researcher who runs the nonprofit Endocrine Disruption Exchange in Colorado and co-authored the 1996 book "Our Stolen Future," one of the first popular publications to raise an alarm about such compounds. "But we've exceeded their carrying and assimilation capacity." That's especially true, Colborn says, because so many sources contribute to the loads of trace organic compounds carried by streams and rivers. While wastewater treatment plants are perhaps the largest single sources, leaching from septic systems, runoff from car washes and feedlots, leakage from sewage pipes, and overflows from water-intensive natural gas drilling all contribute doses...

Some water experts argue that the amounts of endocrine disruptors people ingest in water are insignificant compared to those we get from other sources -- plastic containers, foods, soaps, cosmetics and many other products. "In terms of relative risk, the risk from drinking water is minuscule," says Kim Linton, senior account manager at the Denver-based American Water Works Association Research Foundation. "For example, DEET is one of the most persistent of these trace compounds. Are people more likely to get sick from West Nile virus or from trace levels in the water? Are they going to stop spraying themselves?" No, most probably won't. But some biologists argue that the cumulative effects of endocrine disruptors make it imperative to reduce their concentrations wherever possible. "You would have to drink incredible amounts of the water to amount to an effect that these chemicals naturally have," says David Norris, a University of Colorado endocrinologist who studied the impacts endocrine disruptors have on fish. "But adult humans are getting estrogenic compounds from an incredible number of sources. So any amount we get from water will add to that, since these chemicals have additive effects."

Category: Colorado Water

7:32:38 AM    

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Here's another look at Colorado Springs' attempts to avoid 1041 regulation of their proposed Southern Delivery System by Pueblo County, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After agreeing in 2004 to obtain a 1041 land-use permit from Pueblo County, Colorado Springs has spent two years trying to prove it doesn't need one. Colorado Springs and Pueblo County squared off in Pueblo District Court this week over Colorado Springs' claim that it is exempt from the county's land-use regulations under the 1974 HB1041 regulations. The regulations cover projects of state or local impact in order to prevent adverse local impact. Chief District Judge Dennis Maes is expected to issue an order on the case in the near future.

While Colorado Springs fought the regulations in court, a March 2004 intergovernmental agreement with the city of Pueblo and the Pueblo Board of Water Works, plainly states Colorado Springs is required to obtain the permit. Under a series of recitals, outlining what Colorado Springs needs to do in order to implement its proposed Southern Delivery System, is the sentence: "Colorado Springs also must obtain approval from Pueblo County under its 1041 permitting regulations." The next section of the IGA goes on to require Pueblo and the water board to support SDS to the point of withdrawing written comments by the city to the Bureau of Reclamation. That section also recognizes that local permits will be needed for SDS, and even required Pueblo and the water board not to contest those permits.

The following section requires Pueblo and the water board to give Colorado Springs any needed easements. Pueblo County is not obligated to provide any easements under the IGA. The agreement was not substantially changed by the subsequent May 2004 IGA that added the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Fountain and Aurora, said Tom Florczak, assistant city attorney. Discussion and controversy over the IGA has centered on the issues of the flow program through Pueblo and the numerous obligations of each party - including support for SDS - but the 1041 agreement apparently was ignored by Colorado Springs. On Nov. 22, 2005, about seven weeks after Pueblo County revised its 1041 regulations, Colorado Springs filed a complaint in El Paso County District Court, claiming Pueblo County "expressed and demonstrated unequivocal hostility" toward SDS. Pueblo County filed a countersuit to move the case to Pueblo County District Court, a change of venue that Colorado Springs contested all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. Finally, motions in the case were heard during a four-hour session Tuesday in Maes' courtroom...

Colorado Springs attorney David Eason repeatedly argued for exemption from the 1041 permit because the SDS pipeline, as proposed by Colorado Springs, would follow an existing utility corridor through the county. Petros argued that the corridor would be expanded, crossing 130 parcels, 26 of them with homes on them. He also pointed to the "sheer size" of the proposed pumping station, numerous structures associated with the project, road or drainage crossings and potential impacts on Fountain Creek. Eason called those concerns "irrelevant."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:13:04 AM    

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Water levels in Pueblo Reservoir are rising and may effect entities that store water there on an "if and when" basis, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Lake Pueblo could fill to its maximum storage levels next spring for the first time since 2000, creating a situation in which some water users would lose water stored in the reservoir. "If we have a wet year, there is the possibility that we could fill Pueblo Reservoir and there would possibly be a spill," Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said Thursday. Tom Musgrove, manager of the Pueblo Bureau of Reclamation office, told the Southeastern board plans are already in motion that will bring Lake Pueblo to full storage levels by March 15 next year.

Although the capacity of the reservoir is nearly 350,000 acre-feet, only about 257,000 acre-feet can be stored between April 15 and Oct. 31 in order to maintain flood control capacity. During the winter months, irrigators are able to store water in the reservoir. Currently, Lake Pueblo has about 151,500 acre-feet in storage and releases have slowed. During the last month, about 7,500 acre-feet were released. Of the water in storage, 45,500 acre-feet are in if-and-when accounts, while 24,665 acre-feet is winter water. The rest, including 28,000 acre-feet that cannot be released, is Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water. The bureau is moving approximately 45,000 acre-feet of water from Turquoise and Twin Lakes to make room for imports from the Fryingpan River next spring. At least 40,000 acre-feet of winter water is expected to be added this year...

The winter water now in storage must be released by May 1, 2008, and up to 70,000 acre-feet of new winter water could be stored next year with little danger of spilling. The first water to spill would be Aurora's 10,000 acre-foot excess capacity account, followed by excess-capacity accounts within the basin. The Pueblo Board of Water Works has a 6,000 acre-foot long-term account that would not be subject to spill immediately. Next to spill would be any winter water above 70,000 acre-feet.

Most of those with if-and-when accounts would be able to buy Fry-Ark water to make up losses, except for Aurora, which cannot buy project water, and Pueblo West, which only may buy water when all other needs are satisfied under terms when it joined the district. Pueblo West now has approximately 9,000 acre-feet in storage and would move it to Meredith Reservoir if it spills, exchanging it back to Lake Pueblo as conditions permit, said Don Saling, manager of the Pueblo West Metro District, when contacted following the meeting. An extremely wet spring could mean downstream reservoirs also could fill...

One Southeastern board member said the potential spilling of water highlights the need to study the enlargement of Lake Pueblo, a plan the district has supported since 2001, but so far has failed to move through Congress. "To me, this kind of shoots down the argument that you don't need to expand the reservoir," said Gib Hazard, a director from El Paso County.

Category: Colorado Water

7:05:43 AM    

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Pueblo and Pueblo West are working out the details of their partnership over aquisition of shares of the Bessemer ditch, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A proposed agreement between the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Pueblo West clearly keeps the water systems, water rights acquisitions and legal fees separate, while forming a common work plan for purchases on the Bessemer Ditch. The agreement was approved this week by the water board as part of a package aimed at acquiring a controlling interest in Bessemer Ditch. The Pueblo West Metro District board has not reviewed or acted on the agreement. Bessemer Ditch shareholders have not reviewed offers from the water board as a group, and the price for shares has not been publicly announced...

The intergovernmental agreement would set up work plans that would:

- Investigate water rights on the Bessemer Ditch to determine which are suitable for use in each water system.
- Acquire the rights.
- Secure permits, authorizations, contracts or decrees.
- Build and operate new facilities.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:56:29 AM    

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Folks up in Aspen get to vote on a new hydroelectric plant on November 6th, according to The Aspen Times (free registration required). From the article:

The proposed $5.5 million, 1.1-megawatt plant would produce 5.5 million kilowatt-hours a year, enough to power 655 homes annually, city officials said. Trading power bought from coal-powered plants in Nebraska and Wyoming for clean hydroelectric power would eliminate 5,167 tons of C02 emissions - a 0.6 percent reduction in communitywide carbon emissions, Aspen Public Works Director Phil Overeynder said. And tapping the renewable source, in the long run, would reduce the price of electricity, Overeynder said. The project would use existing water rights, head gates and water storage components of the original Castle Creek hydroelectric plant, which met Aspen's electric power needs from 1892 through 1958. "We propose to put these assets back in use," Overeynder said.

But the plan requires voter approval of an open space land exchange. The proposed site is on open space, and city officials want to swap the 26,700-square-foot parcel at the hairpin turn on Power Plant Road for 3,500 linear feet of trails on the 55-acre city water plant property along Castle Creek as well as 30,900 square feet of the Millionaire Lode near the base of Aspen Mountain. Jim Markalunas, whose uncle ran the original plant in the 1920s - and who worked there himself in the 1950s - said the project is good not just for Aspen but for the environment. "If you care for the planet, you'll support clean, renewable energy," Markalunas said, adding that there is no better substitute than hydroelectric power. "I believe in it. I think it's good for the community. And it's good for the planet." The city is asking voters to issue bonds worth nearly $4 million. Revenue from electricity sales will pay for the bonds. The facility also would derive funding from a $400,000 grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency. The city will pay $780,000 toward the project. Neighbors expressed concern about the effect on river levels. Water in Thomas Reservoir currently is diverted from both Maroon and Castle creeks to Thomas Reservoir. If the plant is built, the additional draw on both rivers would be negligible during spring runoffs and would not take rivers below a minimum of 12 cubic feet per second, Overeynder said. Water would be diverted only for the 1-mile stretch of Castle Creek and return to the river just below the plant, Overeynder said. Planners estimate the plant's two turbines will require a 3,000-square-foot building they say could be placed underground. Planners will divert Power Plant Road by 10 feet to make room for the plant and plan to add two parking places.

Neighbors also are worried about noise. But Overeynder cited other successful in-town hydroelectric projects, such as the existing plant in the center of Georgetown. The turbines would generate 60 decibels inside the plant, and fewer outside, Overeynder said - less than the noise of Castle Creek flowing by.

Category: Colorado Water

6:50:30 AM    

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